Thursday, November 03, 2011

Government by Cabinet

For the first time since the election I attended a cabinet meeting tonight, sitting in the row of seats labelled "Public Gallery".  I attended fairly regularly for the last 4 years because there were usually important and/or interesting things being discussed and there really was some discussion.  Tonight was a step back in time.  There was a really important item on the agenda tonight.  Following a serious cut in funding available for services for our youngest children council officers have been reviewing the services to see how best to cope.  They've tried really hard to work out how to target the services to the most needy and they've done a good job.  But then almost every cabinet member had to speak on it, saying how wonderful the report was and adding their two pennorth.  And so it went on - no debates, no discussion, just back patting and agreement that Stockton is the best council in the country thanks to the wonderful people running it!
The one debate was sparked by me asking how they made a decision on which person to appoint as a school governor - the choice being between a ward councillor and a school nomination.  Apparently councillors are to be preferred every time because they've shown a commitment to getting involved.  And of course I had misunderstood completely the role of a council appointed governor - there's no need to report anything to council at any time because Ofsted monitor every school.
So in an hour of my life which I'll never get back I learned that the Labour council is wonderful, the council officers are excellent and councillors are the best school governors.  Wow!

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